The recent domestic violence and child abuse cases circulating around NFL (National Football League) players over the past two weeks has raised many questions.
While most people are rightly infuriated with how the league and commissioner Roger Goodell have handled these situations, particularly the Ray Rice one, there is no written way to go about righting these wrongs.
While the NFL has taken a step back on domestic violence charges against players like Greg Hardy and Ray McDonald, the teams associated with these players have taken their own courses of action. McDonald, a defensive end for the San Francisco 49ers, continues to play football as the team awaits his trial to play out. Meanwhile, Hardy, also a defensive end for the Carolina Panthers, was deactivated for the team’s week-two game, and he could be put on the team’s exempt list. Now, Hardy has already been found guilty of domestic violence in his casewhile McDonald has not. Does it or should it matter?
Should a team have control over the matter, or should the discipline coming down on the player come from the league office? Some believe the only control a team should have is whether or not they wish to release the player. For a long time, the NFL stayed completely away from the issue, only letting the team handle the situation unless a player was convicted or video evidence surfaced.
The video scandal with Rice raised another question; why did the NFL need video evidence to realize the brutality of domestic violence? Whether it is the team handing down discipline or the league office, domestic violence is domestic violence. There should not need to be a video surfacing before appropriate actions are taken. Furthermore, all cases should yield the same result for the player from the league. By that, I mean, since Rice was suspended indefinitely by the league for domestic violence, so should every player who is found guilty of such a crime. There should be no comparing one case to another; moreover, no determining that one case was worse than another. The same goes for child abuse cases.
The NFL, and all of the major North American sports leagues need to learn something from the unfortunate events that have come out the last few weeks. To avoid another disaster in terms of handling the situation, league offices need to determine a protocol for addressing such issues like domestic violence and child abuse. They need to determine whether to take immediate action or instead wait until a trial plays out. Consequently, they need to determine the severity of the punishment inflicted upon violators of these crimes and stick to that for each case.
The bottom line is the NFL needs to demonstrate that it will not tolerate these actions from its players. The NFL needs to make sure its players understand that because sports are so popular, that the actions they choose to make will be held to a higher standard than that of an average citizen. Should it be that way? Maybe not but that is the way it is when you are employed by a league and organization with such power and influence.
There are still a lot of boundaries for the NFL to work around before all of the news from this past week is behind them. However, necessary steps should be taken immediately to make sure that the next time a domestic violence or child abuse case is charged against one of its players, (and hopefully that never happens) is handled in a direct and appropriate manner.
Billy Peterson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org